Updated: Oct 9, 2022
From a Bulgarian tattoo shop, new signee JaySun drops details on Dropikal and stories from the States. Our musical mixologist produced Dabbla's 'Alec Baldwin' and 'Flying', but with his own full-length LP now out, it's time to properly get to know the global DJ/producer.
"It's therapy. That's why my music is so up and down."
With a full-spectrum of beats pulsing through his bloodline and lifetime, JaySun's parties and productions never sit still. Peep the backstory. We talk working on a hip-hop cooking show, his spirituality and how he's swapped pushy past labels for freedom of expression.
How come you're currently in a Bulgarian tattoo shop?
"Well that's my passion: dogs, music and tattoos. That's my therapy. That's actually all I do."
So are you a man of many creative outlets? Dabbz did call you an 'octopus wizard'.
"Yeah definitely. Every time I do something I'm never satisfied with what I'm doing. That's my creativity because I always reflect on things so many times with what I could change. I used to draw, when I was young I was a drawer. I was painting, I was spraying. Yeah, I'm actually moving in the art scene, that's me."
What sounds surrounded you growing up?
"I basically grew up with gogo music, old jazz, reggae and soul stuff. My dad, he was a drummer back in the day. My mum, she was a DJ back in the 60s/70s and she was running a record shop, so I grew up with that. I used to scratch the records I shouldn't be using and fucked up the needles [laughs]. Around 14 I went to Upstairs Records, got me my Technics and a mixer, and from there everything started: a scratch crew, studio, mixtapes, clubs and venues. Now I just do what I wanna do and that's it, and that's good."
What did you soak up in the States and Europe since then?
"I came back to Europe ten years ago because my son was born. I got family all the way up from New York down to Jacksonville. I worked for NBP (with Hot 97). A good friend of my family in Long Island, her manager, legend Ms Lisa Scott (RIP) from the Upper East Coast, she hired me to work on a cooking show called 'On The Back Burner'. We had a kitchen in Queens and invited celebrities from the game. When my son was born I had to leave the country because I needed to be around him, ya know? That was my decision to come back. And I think after all the Corona, Trump and everything that happened [laughs] it was the best decision I made."
What spurred the change from AJ Swizzy to JaySun?
"I had so many good experiences with the name but I also had bad ones. The label I was with in Switzerland pushed me into club music. They said, 'Look at you, you're a good looking guy, you can do that'. I said, 'Sure, I can do it,' but then they actually forced me into stuff. I came from scratching but I ended up being an ‘urban club DJ’. I couldn't stand playing all these 90s-2000s random songs, that old hip-hop stuff, over and over again. I'm coming from a different background with electronic, Island-fused influences as well.
"So, I thought I need a name that I can stand behind, that's fresh, new, that gives me opportunities to do whatever the fuck I want. Because, when they want to book AJ Swizzy, they know I'm still coming with a crazy hip-hop/reggae/funk set. But I love to mix the up-beat, coming down to half-tempo shit, maybe coming in with a reggae song, then coming in with a drum and bass beat - something like that. I just try to be more open and free and that's why we made the decision to change the name to JaySun, as the sun is shining."
How does the production in 'Alec Baldwin' and Dropikal differ from where you were on your Death Moves productions?
"I flipped my styles a little bit more modern. I'm fusing things more. I mix things as one. When you listen to my Dropikal stuff, that's a kinda experimental project. It's just what I love to do. Having so many backgrounds, I feel like I'm just expressing myself. As I said, for me it's therapy. That's why my music is so up and down. I can't really spell what I'm doing because there's so many influences and elements. Each beat contains different parts which could become tracks themselves.
"That's how we started to work with Dabbz too: I'd send him a bunch of shit but most of the tracks like 'Alec Baldwin', that's just a little part of my idea I made first. He just picked the part he wanted and then I made a full song out of it. I just do what I do: I'll just drop my ideas down, record it, send it out and then from there we keep working on the project together. The workflow is set."
Creating music every day, how does it feel to finally put stuff out again?
"It feels pretty good but sometimes it feels strange for me because I don't look at myself like I'm that important [laughs]. Right now, I'm very excited because I know I've got so much ready for the future and the team is strong. You don't need a big fuckin' ass studio. You just need to be talented, creative and you have to believe in yourself."
How would you describe Dropikal? Lots of sounds in there.
"It makes sense to listen through the tracks because they switch, so sometimes it's almost like two beats in one, but that's the way I work. Dropikal is actually a mirror for myself. As in, one track you've got the reggae influences, another track you've got more of the bassy influence, some tracks are more chillout drum and bassy, there's the hip-hop influence, there's some trap in there. Yeah, it's the urban universe I'm in. I'm just doing me. It's my therapy."
Each video aligns with either earth, wind, fire and water. What's the thinking there?
"Yeah, cos music is so spiritual and it's an instrumental project. I like illustration and cartoon stuff so we came up with the art idea. But with the elements it becomes like a circle. It’s my spiritual view: it always has to give you something positive to think about psychological-wise. You can put people on stuff they don't even know. Maybe the next one is gonna be The Chakra Dropikal or something else crazy."
How did the feature with Reverend Beatman come about?
"It's where the energy puts it. Mr is a legend and I've listened to a lot of Voodoo Rhythm Records stuff since forever. We are living in the same small town and working in the same building. There will be more heat coming, but yes, it's def a blessing having such great, talented people in this small community around. Music is life - life is music."
What's next for JaySun?
"I'm gonna just be on my journey to be happy and healthy. ‘Live, love, life’ - that's definitely my motto. Express myself, meet new people, work on music, be inspired. That's the goal for the future: be healthy and be amongst good people who take care of respect, family and love. That's it."
Are you a shout-out kinda guy?
Stumpf Burpee: Instagram